The Westsider Rail Story

The Southern Pacific (SP) rail line from Beaverton to St. Joe was originally projected by Joseph Gaston as the route for his Oregon Central Railroad. However, it was the Oregon and California Railroad under the direction of Ben Holiday that actually built the line. The train was given the name "Westside" because its route was on the west side of the Willamette River as opposed to a competing railroad that was built on the east side of the river and given the name "Eastside." The Westside train was opened from Portland to Hillsboro on December 23, 1871; to Cornelius on January 29, 1872; to Gaston on September 29, 1872; and finally to St. Joseph on November 2, 1872.

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In the early 1870's, Wilson Carl traveled to Portland to see if Westside Railroad officials would place a stop to benefit the farmers in the area south of Gaston and north of St. Joe. The railroad first agreed to try a flag stop in what was then just farmland, and in 1875 a station was established. The railroad gave it the name "Carlton" in honor of Mr. Carl.

The stop in Gaston was named for Mr. Joseph Gaston, the man who originally conceived of a railroad on the west side of the Willamette River.

Ultimately, there were four stops between Hillsboro and St. Joe; Seghers, Patton, Gaston and Carlton.

The Southern Pacific (SP) Company acquired control of the "Westsider" as part of its acquisition of the Oregon and California Railroad in May 1887.

In addition to the freight and logging trains that operated on the Westside rail line in the early 1900's, there were two or three passenger trains traveling every day in each direction. On Sunday mornings groups would gather at the station waiting for the early morning train from Portland to deliver the Sunday paper and mail. Locals found it quite entertaining to wile away a Sunday afternoon at the depot, eager to see who would step off the train and who might board.


The SP Company, a rival to Portland-based companies, electrified its lines to Oswego and McMinnville and eventually Corvallis. Electric interurban service started on the Westside line to McMinnville in 1914, and service extended to Corvallis in 1917.  Iconic Pullman cars painted red with large porthole windows in front became known as the Red Electrics. But, before    long, a new competitor for commuter traffic appeared in the form of motor buses, and SP saw a decline in trolley business. In 1924 they discontinued their Sunday trains out of Portland and by 1929 only two trolleys operated between McMinnville and Portland. In 1930 SP ceased all trolley services in the area and sent the remaining cars to Los Angeles.


The rail line continued to support the logging, agriculture, and commercial businesses in the area until 1980, when there was a dramatic decrease in the number of "on-line" industries using the "Westsider." At this time, SP used the track between Seghers and St. Joe to store surplus cars, and in 1985 this section was removed from the SP timetable and the tracks were pulled up. The section between Seghers and Hillsboro is currently being used a few days a week to carry lumber products from Stimson Lumber Mill, located 2.4 miles west of Segher.